While studies continually suggest that owning a pet can offer amazing benefits in terms of stress reduction, finding a suitable rental house or apartment that permits pets can also seem like a considerable source of anxiety and/or frustration in a tight housing market. At the same time, it should be encouraging to hear that some of the most competitive rental markets in the Bay Area are also the most pet-friendly. In fact, Forbes magazine named San Francisco as the most pet-friendly place to live among the 25 largest rental markets in the country, and awarded the number four spot to Oakland. Boost your odds of finding the right pet-friendly rental in a timely manner, and with minimal hassle, using our tips below.
Be straight with a potential landlord: Keep in mind that landlords have legitimate reasons for no-pet policies and tend to enforce them. Among their common concerns are potential damage, liability, pet odors and possibility of disturbing or even losing other tenants. Trying to conceal that you have a pet or the fact that you have more pets than you’ve disclosed can expose you to legal consequences including an eviction (think “3-Day Notice to Cure or Quit”), and it can also hurt your chances of getting a strong reference when you move. According to Nolo, the Berkeley-based provider of do-it-yourself legal books and software, courts generally uphold no-pets clauses in leases and rental agreements – allowing a landlord to evict a tenant who is in violation and refuses to give up the pet.
Chances are high that your landlord or apartment manager will uncover the truth if you’re concealing an animal, so focus on locating “pet-friendly” apartments or homes right from the start of your search. You’ll not only avoid getting hung up on a home with a no-pets policy, but you’re also more likely to find a place to live among neighbors more amiable toward animals.
Consider that large complexes may have more restrictions: According to Petfinder, the largest online pet adoption website serving North America, large complexes are more likely to allow pets than landlords with only a handful of units. At the same time; however, large complexes often have more restrictions on the number and type of pets allowed, including stipulations regarding breed, size, etc. For example, some larger complexes ban breeds of dogs that are commonly perceived to be more dangerous, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and more. The reasons for these restrictions vary from concerns about liability and city or county bans to requirements from insurance companies. In general, you’re more likely to convince an individual home owner than a corporate landlord or management company to make an exception. Searching for housing with a beloved, well-behaved pet that also happens to fall under breed restriction lists? Get helpful suggestions at Breed Restrictions 101 from Rent.com.
Get references and records together: Just as it’s a good idea to bring your own personal and financial documents (e.g. credit reports, recent pay stubs and references) when meeting with potential landlords and/or property managers, it also pays off to provide documentation on your pets. Many experts recommend putting together a resume for your pet that includes information such as the pet’s size, training certification, behavior traits, personal hygiene, whether the animal is spayed or neutered, veterinarian’s contact information, references and more. If you don’t want to do a complete resume for your pet, at least provide references for him or her along with records regarding vaccinations and any documentation on training classes/programs completed. Current or previous landlords are ideal references if they will confirm that your animal didn’t cause any destruction or disturb neighbors, and that you were a responsible pet owner. A professional such a trainer or veterinarian is another good potential reference.
Look into the Canine Good Citizen Program from the AKC: If you’re a dog owner, consider the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test. This program focuses on responsible pet ownership and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs that pass the 10-step CGC test are eligible to receive a certificate from the ACK, which an increasing number of apartments and condos require for residents with dogs. Even if the place you’re considering renting doesn’t request CGC certification, the award can go a long way toward reassuring a prospective landlord that your dog isn’t a liability.
Introduce your pet: Have an extraordinarily loveable, well-mannered pet that makes a great first impression? It can work in your favor to arrange a meeting with the property owner/manager after a trip to the groomers.
Offer a trial period: If you encounter a landlord that is somewhat reluctant to rent to tenants with animals but seems persuadable, one option is to propose a short-term rental period during which the landlord can ascertain whether you pet is a good fit for the residence.
Get it in writing: When it comes to renting with pets, a verbal agreement will not suffice. Make sure that your lease clearly spells out terms regarding your pet(s), including the additional amount of security deposit that you are paying to cover any potential pet-related damage. Even if your current landlord is hospitable to animals, there is always a possibility that a new owner may not have the same sentiments.
Need more help finding a rental home that will welcome your pet or resolving a pet-related issue with your landlord? The Humane Society is a terrific resource. Visit their webpage “Information for Renters with Pets” for a wealth of information, including advice for keeping your landlord happy.